Sunday, October 27, 2019
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Traditions and Rituals
I've been thinking this week about traditions and rituals. Most often, the traditions I created were associated with Holidays, Birthdays, and events such as the first day of school. Through the years, there was time spent in the reading of books, perusing of seasonal articles, and asking friends about their traditions.
It was important to me that I created traditions in our home, not having brought many with me from childhood. It is even more a blessing as I see my children bringing their traditions to their own homes, often added to traditions their spouse looked forward to from their own growing up years. Traditions can act as a much needed reminder of consistency amidst life's changes.
However, when I think of rituals, I think of those common actions we do in our day to day existence. Those routines that help create an anchor to our days. Whether it is the way we make that first cup of coffee or tea each morning, having something baking in the oven when the kids get home from school, or placing the warm throw on the side of the sofa on that first cool day of Fall.
I learned about the need for traditions and rituals from my three favorite "mentors" (all from books) of my early homemaking years: Edith Schaeffer, Anne Ortlund, and Emilie Barnes. Each woman was unique in her advice and the three together rounded out my Christian homemaking education nicely.
I think most of us spend more time thinking of traditions... and that is not a bad thing at all... but we need to reflect on the little rituals that make up our days.... as our days then become years. For they can be easily overlooked in the sameness of it all.
Many rituals people tend to practice through the years are associated with food since most of us eat three meals a day. My husband traveled a lot with his work, so we often ordered a pizza the day he left on an airplane. When we lived in Detroit, my son and I started our day by walking to the nearby diner for breakfast as Dad was on his way to the Detroit International Airport. (That's why we were watching TV at the diner the morning of 9/11.)
We had a "first day of school" ritual of having breakfast out that morning, which we continued even when we homeschooled. I can recall the most memorable "first day of school" breakfast at a favorite restaurant as my son was starting Kindergarten that day and my daughter was beginning her first day of college.
I roast a chicken almost every week in colder weather. I figure if it's good enough for Ina, it is good enough for me. (For those who have never watched The Barefoot Contessa cooking show, she roasts a chicken every Friday for dinner.) Of course, I doubt Ina started this weekly meal because it was good for her budget like I did. I think it had more to do with their Jewish heritage.
I never intended to make roasting a chicken and making soup each week a ritual. However, like so many things we do regularly, it just happened over time. Much like when one begins collecting tea cups... once you have three of any item, you have a collection. Once you do something a few times in a row, you have established a ritual.
I think that the weekly ritual of something so simple as roasting a chicken and the subsequent making of soup offers a bit of sameness... of stability... an anchor in uncertain times. Although there will be weeks I do not roast a chicken, it isn't cut in stone that I must... most weeks in cold weather we do and I look forward to leftover chicken carcass being transformed into something healthy and delicious.
Emilie Barnes wrote a lot about the importance of daily rituals. I think of her when I wash dishes in a sink full of hot sudsy water with the fragrance of one of the seasonal Mrs. Meyers scents in the bubbles. Currently it is the aroma of Apple Cider that transforms a chore one must do when they are tired into a little more enjoyable ritual. (Emilie had a tiny oil lamp she often lit while doing dishes after dinner.)
As we are on the cusp of November, I am certain my thoughts will turn even more to the subject of rituals and traditions. Some have changed over the years while others have remained the same. For instance, it is time to purchase a new jar of silver cream and begin polishing the thrifted silver pieces. A November tradition that results in... sparkle.